In single player you have loot, in multiplayer games you have loot. Generally the idea is the same: to give the player a better item to survive better in the game or to help them in their queste or to give them new challenges to complete.
In the Zelda series for example, the loot consists generally of money. From bosses you can get a special weapon, usually the type of weapon or tool that the boss generally uses to his advantage. Afterwards you will obtain this ‘power’ so that also you can use these powers for defeating the next boss, along with a lot of other ways to come across a variety of puzzles in the game. Even secret items are put away in a certain way that make you use only those new tools to get to them.
In multiplayer games, I am referring here to MMO’s or point & click games such as Diablo 2-3 etc, loot is still somewhat an upgrade (or downgrade) to a player. The higher the level of the monster, or the more special the monster, the better the loot often is. But next to that it is often about a huge randomizer that decides what you will get together with a loot table which defines what types of loot will drop against what type of chance.
So it is then just a big gamble onto what will drop and when. So, just killing around monsters just for the chance that I might get something nice, is rather boring to me.
I don’t see the point of playing in Vegas in a game. Then I rather play a little more creative game where you know what you can get and how you can get it. Than it is about your skill how to get to that.
That’s perhaps what I enjoy (for me mostly watching though, as I don’t play that much games) the most on games like Zelda or Metroid: the players’ skill is being used to achieve things and gets rewarded with loot.
But what disturbs me most with loot is when a rabbit or a rat, drops a huge long sword. It doesn’t make sense and there is neither any logic in what items a monster or an enemy drops. So here is my wishful thinking that future (indie) games will take note of this.
Create games that aren’t all about randomness and loot tables, but also take into account that the players’ skill could be used to play the game and that you can reward them accordingly.. but with things that actually make sense.
I as an MMO player, or roleplayer, expect guts, not weaponry or coins in a dead animal. (also would I prefer that animals would earn a little bit more respect in games, but that is a different subject). I expect those enemies that use longswords, to drop a longsword, or a crossbow.
In the same way should quests reward you with that what had to do with the quest. Whether that is an item or a general advice / tip from an old man.
As for money loot, this is even weirder. Have you ever seen a rat or a rabbit in the shop buying carrots or cheese? No? Then why should they drop money.. coins even. Yes unless it is a mechanic such as in most platformers that you can receive a credit.. a ring or coin per kill, then it is actually fine, because then it is about how many coins you collected at the end of the level. So basicly I am saying that loot should make sense.
I don’t even know why they still bother with credits for classical fantasy games. That you do that with a futuristic or realistic game.. alright.. we have nowadays coins yes, but why don’t you implement more of a barter system in your game where animal skins (which you pickup anyway for crafting) become part of a currency?
That was my rambling about loot gamedesign for today.
Next time I will ramble on about items and their ‘stats’ as well as looks.